My sister wasn't very pleased with this chapter 'cause of how unsatisfying it is. Also, it is of my opinion that the quality really varies from good to bad throughout this one. But to me, there really isn't any other way for this story to end, and so, this is the end.
Nobody had heard from him for two days already. It was worrying.
"He's not the type of guy to hold grudges…I think," murmured Link. Dr. Cockroach was holding an emergency meeting with him though it really couldn't be called a meeting when there were pretty much only two members. Insecto might have counted if it weren't for the fact that he didn't offer much to the conversation.
"I don't believe any of us has insulted him recently in the first place."
B.O.B. wasn't in the emergency meeting for very obvious reasons. At the moment, he was chasing an imaginary butterfly, having reasoned that he was never going to chase a real one and it was never good to miss out on an experience, even if it was imaginary.
Insecto roared something, making Dr. Cockroach's antennae vibrate and wave in the air. "What? No! Don't say that!" The giant grub made a brief rebuttal. "…Well, I guess that's right, but…"
"Would you kindly share this conversation for the convenience of those who can't speak bug?" He hadn't meant to sound cross, but it certainly came out that way. The disappearance of the invisible man was taking a toll on everybody. Nobody had even commented on how ironic the whole situation was.
"Oh, sorry. Insecto just suggested that he…ah, died."
Dr. Cockroach paused. A disturbing thought, but he couldn't deny the high probability. "He was eighty-eight years old, Link. Excuse me for bad taste, but I'm surprised he lasted as long as he did."
"You're talking like you're sure he's dead," Link shot back bitterly. The doctor didn't reply. Affirming his accusation would just escalate tensions, which the meeting could really do without.
"Guys, hey guys, I just realized I can't catch butterflies without a net. What do I do?"
"Plastic bag, tape it to any type of rod, though I suggest a broken tennis racket," Dr. Cockroach replied absent-mindedly. At least he didn't ask about –
"Oh yeah, where'd Bill go?"
There was a long silence, which the innocent blob didn't seem to notice. "'Cause he was gonna show me a magic trick. And tell me a story about a war or something."
"We're figuring that out," Link replied darkly, glaring pointy sticks at the doctor as if daring for him to reveal any morbid hypotheses. At least he wasn't quite glaring daggers. When Link glared daggers, he tended to punch something.
"Okay, gotcha. I'm off to catch that butterfly!"
As soon as B.O.B. was some distance away, Link hissed, "Age doesn't matter."
"History may state otherwise."
"Hey, I'm millions of years old, right?"
"You were frozen most of the time."
"Well…you seem just as great as when I first met you, and how long ago was that?"
Oh my god, she's sixty-one now. How did that happen?
"What's wrong?" Link was peering at him with concern. "You just started staring at nowhere …"
"Hm? Oh, nothing." Judging by his distracted appearance, it was most obviously something, but Link wasn't one to dig deep if someone didn't even give him a spoon to dig with. So, back to the previous matters…
"D'ya think you can make something we can see him with?"
"Do you think you can find a capacitor or some polysulphone?"
Link had brought up an interesting point, though. He was old enough to be a grandfather and still felt as fit as a man in his early thirties. Did that horrible experiment do more than he thought? Was he stuck as a thirty-one old man, or did he just gain extreme longevity?
Link suddenly glanced around the room for the omnipresent, unseen, hypersensitive cameras and microphones they knew were installed. "They probably noticed too, they always know everything that goes on here. Why aren't they doing anything?"
Insectosaurus roared again, prompting another "Don't say that!"
It was probably for the best, then, that he didn't, couldn't stay with Laura. It would have caused more grief in the long run.
…How was she now?
It really shouldn't be his concern now. Their lives were no longer overlapped. She had probably remarried anyways. Settled down. Not exactly forget, but put memories aside. Nobody could wait for someone who would never come back.
"Doc, doc," Link scowled impatiently, feeling that the scientist really shouldn't be spacing out at this time.
"I think someone's coming. Finally." There was no 'I think' about it. The thick metal doors were rather loud when they opened. Dr. Cockroach had been thinking too deeply to notice the racket.
Instead of just Monger, as usual, there was a scientist joining him. She was clutching some sort of bulky goggles. Compared to the much older General's confident stride, she shuffled. Her faded, brown hair was accented with streaks of gray and pulled into a tight bun, which bobbed slightly as she jerked her head around glancing at all the monsters, staring at the bug-headed man…
Beside him, Link gave a heavy sigh. "He escaped," the fish-ape muttered. Dr. Cockroach peered up at his weary defeated face, then stared at amiable, childish B.O.B., who was greeting the visitors enthusiastically with threats of spork-stabbing if they didn't release him and his buddies from prison.
"Of course," he replied.
B.O.B. sludged away to find the butterfly (actually, it turned into a bird) again, satisfied with his friendly intimidation. Dr. Cockroach, hands casually set in his lab coat pockets, strolled up to the two out-of-place humans; after a while, Link slowly shadowed him.
"Hello," the old scientist smiled nervously at the two inmates, creating a web of wrinkles across her face. "I'm, uh," catching Monger's warning glance, she seemed to amend what she almost said. "Uh, I'm here to check up on, uh, InvisoBill…" She patted the hefty equipment in her arms, chuckling awkwardly. She was probably still getting used to the fact that there was no thick glass between them.
"Alright." That was all Dr. Cockroach could think to say. Link settled for an ambiguous grunt. And awkward silence settled upon the group, punctuated only by B.O.B. slamming his make-shift net on Insecto's foot with a triumphant 'I caught you!'
Monger, staring at Dr. Cockroach in what was possibly a meaningful way, nudged the woman beside him. "Oh, uh, right, uh, better get started, I, uh, guess…" She smiled wanly before putting on the goggles. She looked odd with them on, almost bug-eyed.
The other three followed her around and Dr. Cockroach started to get lost in his thoughts once more.
Yes, it was better to forget her.
Why was it so hard?
"Oh…I think…I found him…"
By the tone of her voice, it was easy to tell that Insecto had been right.
"He's in that chair."
Link nodded morosely. "How?"
"It's a bit hard to tell with an invisible man," the old woman's voice cracked as she cradled the goggles in her arms again.
"Most likely a heart attack," Dr. Cockroach found himself saying. The woman nodded.
Another prolonged silence as it was made clear Griffin was really dead.
"Welp," the general said with a loud sigh, straightening his back once more. "We better get goin'."
Link's head swerved back and forth a few times between the innocuously empty chair and the pair of retreating backs. "But, but what about him?!"
"I'll bring that subject up for the board to decide." The fish-ape easily caught up with the two and swung Monger back around.
"You can't just leave him there."
Monger's face remained blank, though it seemed to give a slight suggestion that if Link kept this up, somebody was going to wake up tomorrow with a horrible headache. "I can't just bury him. I can't just do whatever I want. If it's not military, I'm not in charge." The general shoved aside Link's hand and walked away once more. The woman beside him glanced back once in a while, uncertain. The fish-ape glared daggers at his back.
"You know you shouldn't," Dr. Cockroach warned.
"Yeah. But I'd really like to."
"Shall we tell him now?"
"Not in the mood. You go do it."
He should have done it tomorrow, when Link was willing. He really should have waited.
He was the only one who saw B.O.B.'s expression. "But why? Why did he leave without us? He was gonna tell me a story. Why?"
Late at night, Dr. Cockroach held his lab coat to his face. The watermelon smell had worn off long ago. Now it was replaced by the smell of fish and that musty smell old men always seem to accumulate. It was also stained with blue gel and covered with fur.
Tomorrow, he'd have to get Link. They'd have to make up a story for B.O.B. It didn't necessarily have to be true, or scientifically correct. As long as they would all end up laughing at the end.